Ibadan — Embattled House of Representatives Speaker Mrs. Patricia Olubunmi Etteh is "the only hope of the Yoruba in the Federal Government of Nigeria" and "any attempt by members of the House to remove her would therefore mean removing the Yoruba nation from the scheme of things in Nigeria", strongman of Ibadan politics Alhaji Lamidi Aribiyi Adedibu declared in Ibadan yesterday.
Alhaji Lamidi spoke at the Segelu Hotel when the Speaker paid him a condolence visit on the death of his political godson and House of Representatives member Mr. Segun Oladimeji, who was killed by unknown persons at the weekend. The hotel was owned by the late legislator.
The Ibadan strongman urged President Umaru Yar'Adua to immediately halt the probe ordered by the House of Representatives into the N628 million contract for the furnishing of Mrs. Etteh and her deputy Babangida Saidu Nguroje's houses, as well as the purchase of 12 luxury cars for the use of House principal officers.
He said, "Let our lawmakers allow peace to grow in the nation. This is the Speaker we put there as our own. What concerns the Yoruba is peaceful coexistence. What they are saying about Etteh does not concern us. If you try Etteh, you are trying us. We will not submit. This is the only one we have in the West. The Yoruba people are now speaking with one voice by appealing to the members. The entire Yoruba race are speaking with one voice, that what is on the ground is more than what they are talking about. Tell Yar'Adua that he should tell his men to stop probing Etteh. Yar'Adua is my son. We voted massively for him in Oyo State here. If it were Chief Obasanjo, would he set up an inquiry? We put Yar'Adua there because we voted massively for him. We don't want the democracy enshrined by Chief Obasanjo to be truncated by anyone. I therefore call on the members of the Representatives that we have the Easterners and the Northerners here. So, this country belongs to all of us".
Mrs. Etteh had arrived in Ibadan earlier yesterday at the head of a National Assembly delegation to pay a condolence visit on the death of Oladimeji, who represented Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency of Oyo State. While delivering a condolence message to the family from Yar'Adua, the Speaker pledged the president's resolve to ensure that the MP's killers are fished out without delay.
The Speaker was accompanied to the New Ife Road, Ibadan residence of the deceased lawmaker by some members of the National Assembly including the Deputy Leader, Alhaji Shehu Hagai and Mr. Kayode Idowu. She said she had already dialogued with acting Police Inspector General Mr. Mike Okiro on the assassination. She urged the Police boss to ensure that the perpetrators of the gruesome murder are brought to book.
Mrs. Etteh, who arrived Ibadan at 1.00.p.m., lamented the unnecessary killing of Oladimeji, just as she cautio-ned politicians against politics of bitterness. She said that other professionals do not settle their scores with the gun the way politicians do. While maintaining that Nigeria does not need politics of bitterness at this stage of the nation's development, the Speaker declared that she was grieved and felt sad "as I am talking to you now. When last I was in the state, he was with me. He said I would not leave the place until I took photograph with him. When I learnt about this death, I asked my colleagues and aides who the man was, and someone referred me to a photo in my living room. We were together last Thursday, before he left for Ibadan. If he had known this would happen to him, he would not have made the journey. He was to perform his civic duty to his constituency when his life was cut short by unidentified men".
She charged politicians not to see politics as a matter of life and death, urging that they should work together as brothers and sisters. According to her, "the election is now over and what should be paramount in the minds of all should be how to bring the dividends of democracy across to our people. The day I was sworn in, I prayed to God for the protection of my colleagues, but today, we are mourning one of our own, which should not be so".